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Build BIGGER TRAPS With This Technique!


Posted by Scott_Herman - May 7th, 2017

What’s going on everybody! Today I want to talk to you about one of the WORST and BEST exercises to help you build bigger TRAPS!

Like many movements in the gym, if you don’t use proper form and proper hand placement, you can actually end up doing more damage than good and the Upright Barbell Row is one of those movements. With this exercise, there seems to be so much misinformation surrounding it and most people usually recommend that you avoid it like the plague because it can be very bad for your shoulders.

And don’t get me wrong! It IS bad for your shoulders…if you do it wrong! The Upright Row in reality can cause a shoulder impingement, depending on where you grab the barbell. There are a couple of reasons why people get shoulder pain and impingement and I would like to briefly get into them now:

Reason #1 – Using An Inside Grip on the Barbell

Grabbing the bar with a close grip always makes the exercise easier in terms of how much weight you can lift. Lifting a lot of weight can be beneficial due to the increased muscle overload but when it comes to an exercise like the Upright Row, by bringing your hands pretty close, you are actually targeting the front delts more than the muscle you are trying to target which is the upper traps. At the same time you are also internally rotating your shoulder joints which causes extreme pressure at the front of the joint and inevitably leads to a shoulder impingement, especially as you start to work through that range of motion with resistance.

Reason #2 – Not Utilizing A Proper Warm-Up For Your Shoulders

The pain can also come from not warming-up your shoulders properly, prior to your workouts. Understand that inside your shoulder socket (and any joint for that matter), there is synovial fluid which is a high viscosity fluid that helps with friction between bones as that joint starts to perform different movements.

So when you perform any shoulder exercise you want all the bones surrounding the joints involved in the exercise, to be gliding across each other, rather than having an increased resistance inside the actual shoulder sockets. You can do that by performing a thorough shoulder warm-up (link below). Warming up properly will get that synovial fluid to be more like water, instead of being like honey and having to overcome too much friction.

Upright Barbell Row – Proper Form

To properly and safely target your traps with the Upright Row, you need to grab the bar with a nice wide grip (outside shoulder-width) and start the exercise with a really deep stretch on those traps by sagging your shoulders down as far as you can. From there, pull the barbell into your neck and squeeze your traps as hard as you can.

Return to the starting position, getting a deep stretch and repeat for about 8 – 12 repetitions. Always remember to keep your elbows above your wrists throughout the entire range of motion. By keeping your elbows high, you will be able to get a hard, intense contraction of the traps at the top of the movement.

Cheat & Recover With The Upright Barbell Row

What I’ve been attributing my recent gains lately is actually a really interesting method of training called Cheat & Recover. You can try this next time you’re in the gym, training your traps!

Let’s say you are doing 4 sets in total for the Upright Row. Load the barbell up with a bit more weight than you usually use and then for every single set you are going to perform one drop set.

So ONE set consists of 16 total repetitions. Start the CHEATING portion of the set by performing 8 repetitions using a bit of momentum to throw the weight up and then slowly control the negative and get a deep stretch on the traps. As soon as you complete 8 reps, without getting any rest, drop the weight and perform an additional 8 repetitions with strict form and equal focus on the entire movement for the RECOVER portion of the set. That’s ONE SET. Perform three more sets and rest 90 seconds between each set.

NOTE: Although the Cheat & Recover method usually allows for very heavy weights, it’s not advisable to go crazy when it comes to the Upright Row. Just use a bit of momentum for the CHEAT but don’t rely entirely on it.

Closing Up

It should be very clear to you by now that any exercise in the gym, if you don’t know how to utilize it properly, can result in either no gains or it can result in an injury. Therefore, always be smart about your training. Exercises like the Upright Row can be very useful, because let’s face it…there aren’t really many options to choose from when it comes to trap training. Between Shrugs, Upright Rows and Face-Pulls, your options are a bit limited so it’s necessary that you understand how to properly execute each one!

That’s it for this quick article! If you have any questions, feel free to post them down in the comment section below and as always…more good stuff coming soon!

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